There will be no soft landing into the NFL for Seahawks rookie right guard Germain Ifedi.
If all goes well in practice this week, then Ifedi is likely to play — if not start – at right guard for Seattle against the New York Jets Sunday, taking on a defensive line some think is as good as any in the NFL.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,’’ said Ifedi, who has yet to play after suffering a high ankle sprain in practice on the Wednesday before the season opener against Miami. “It’s a really good test for potentially my first game back.’’
Not backing down from any challenge became Ifedi’s trademark during the pre-season, when he won the starting right guard job after being taken in the first round of the NFL draft last spring.
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Ifedi had notable tussles with Michael Bennett, K.J. Wright and just about any defender who came his way during camp in exhibiting a nastiness that coaches said they will welcome getting back.
“We’ve missed him,’’ Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “He’s a real factor. … He has a great attitude and he does have a presence about him, and he’s very tough. We look forward to getting him back in there.”
Carroll said on Monday that Ifedi will start if he is healthy enough to play. J’Marcus Webb has started with Ifedi out.
Speaking before practice on Wednesday — the first he planned to participate in significantly since the injury — Ifedi said he thinks he’ll be good to go. Ifedi took part fully in the team’s walk-through in the morning then was listed as a limited participant in the afternoon practice, which was by design. The plan was for Ifedi to take part in every drill and team period but to not take quite as many snaps as he would normally as he gets back into things.
“We’re on the right track, I think,’’ Ifedi said of the walk-through. “I was moving good, didn’t feel any kickback from the ankle. Just trying to get my conditioning back. Still letting the ankle heal some but trying to get my conditioning back, my timing back, get back acclimated to playing football.’’
Offensive line coach Tom Cable said after practice that Ifedi was on “kind of on a pitch count and grow as we go. Looked fine. He certainly was able to do enough in his rehab to get him at this point. We’ll just keep upping his work volume each day.”
Wednesday marked exactly three weeks from the day Ifedi was injured.
He said he’s still not sure what happened when he was hurt.
“Kind of a freak play,’’ he said. “I couldn’t even tell you how it happened. Just one of those things. Just one of those weird plays during practice that you get hit in the wrong place or something like that and it just flared up. It was very weird.’’
Ifedi suffered a similar high ankle sprain in high school so he said he at least knew some of the procedure for rehabbing.
Part of the trick, he said, has been to stay as involved with the team as possible while also being patient in understanding the recovery has to run its course.
“It was tough,’’ he said of being hurt just a few days before what he thought would be his NFL debut. “But you’ve got to take full advantage of it. You’ve got to take it as a learning experience, a growing experience. It’s just another challenge —- you are going to have those types of challenges and thank God it wasn’t worse and that I was able to finally get back practicing and doing those things after just a couple of weeks. The injury is usually a longer-lasting injury. So just take it for what it is. If you get too down you start getting out of your rhythm. You’ve just got to stay up and attack the rehab and I think I did a good job of doing that.’’
Cable agreed, saying that Ifedi approached the weeks off with the same mentality he did to become one of the quicker studies of the team’s playbook in recent memory.
“Rhythm and timing,” Cable said of Ifedi’s biggest challenge once he returns. “He’s done a really fantastic job of staying connected to it, though. In terms of game plan, the weeks he missed and learning it. We kept him in the testing and board work, all of those things. So I expected mentally he’s in pretty good shape … Even though he’s missed some time now, to be able to come back and plug it back in really shows where he’s at in terms of the injury recovery and all that. So check off day one. It went well.”
Ifedi was one of five players listed as limited participants Wednesday. The others were tight end Jimmy Graham (knee), WR Tyler Lockett (knee), LB Mike Morgan (hip) and tight end Nick Vannett (ankle). Graham was likely having a rest day — he also was limited last Wednesday before then practicing fully the rest of the week and playing Sunday. Lockett is still nursing an injury suffered against the Rams.
Vannett’s limited action was his most extensive work since suffering a high ankle sprain in a preseason game against Minnesota and it is expected he will be back for the game against the Jets.
QB Russell Wilson (ankle), RB C.J. Prosise (wrist) and DE Cliff Avril (hamstring) were all listed as a full participant.
The only player listed as not practicing — and at this point, the only player who is being ruled out — was RB Thomas Rawls.